Disaster recovery infrastructure revamp gets industry attention

Christina Torode, Editorial Director

Our SearchCIO 2013 IT Leadership Awards recognize the contributions and innovations of IT professionals at enterprise companies. We put out a call for nominations for individuals who have excelled in six categories: cultural innovation, technological advancement, business value, green IT, IT engagement and customer experience.

Carl VogelCarl Vogel

Finalist Carl Vogel set out to redefine the IT department as a game changer, not only within Iowa Select Farms, but across the farming industry. In his first week at Iowa Select Farms in 2011 -- his first time helming an IT department, we might add -- Vogel began to develop a plan that would give 600 member farms access to centralized data and resources, and more recently gave the disaster recovery infrastructure a much-needed overhaul. New backup and recovery software allows for near-continuous disk image "snaps" as often as 288 times a day for business-critical machines, slashing the potential for data loss from as much as 24 hours to just 5 minutes. That's a far cry from his first week on the job, during which the primary backup system crashed, two days of data were lost and the system remained down for seven days. The farming industry has taken notice, with peers reaching out to Vogel for help with their disaster recovery infrastructure strategies and for advice on how to loosen their organization's grip on outdated technologies.

Read this Q&A with Vogel, a finalist in the green IT and IT engagement categories, to find out what technology Vogel can't live without and what he thinks is the biggest problem with corporate cultures today.

Number of years in IT: 11

Revenue: $175 million

Number of employees in the company: 1,100

Number of employees in IT: 18

Educational background: Bachelor of science degree in management information systems, Iowa State University.

LinkedIn: Carl Vogel

From the Judges

"Strong leadership that goes beyond the enterprise to positively impact the industry. Others should take note."

What's the best advice you've ever received?  "Do it right, do it once."

In the movie of your life, who would play your character? Woody Harrelson

If you could have just one superpower, what would it be and why?  Super speed, so I can get more things done in a day.

What's your favorite app on your smartphone or tablet device? SkyDrive Pro, a very useful app for the workplace.

Where do you fall in the iPhone vs. Android debate? Windows 8 Nokia Phones -- suited much better for getting work done.

Describe the best technology decision you ever made. In any company I have worked for -- or on any project I have managed -- the best decision I've made is to create a solid infrastructure to allow for technology to grow, adapt and stay ahead of the ever-changing needs of the company.

Was there ever a technology that you thought was a gimmick but now couldn't live without? If not, which currently technology is a gimmick or overly-hyped? I think BYOD is over-hyped to a certain extent -- and over sold. There are security concerns there but they do not always apply for every business.  Research should be applied before diving in head first.

What's the biggest challenge you face in IT today? Getting companies to accept change after using outdated technology.

From the nomination

"Vogel came on board intent on revolutionizing IT disaster recovery preparedness just for his company. Now his influence is spreading, and he is a much sought-after source of leadership for the entire segment of the farming industry."

Which role/internal partner do you rely upon the most? My staff: They allow me to make aggressive decisions because they have proven time and time again that they can keep up.

What's your prediction for the next big technology? I see a revival of thin clients gaining speed again with a greater adoption of private cloud technology and Web applications due to the ever broadening user base with mobile devices.

What's your favorite nonmonetary benefit or perk of your job? Having a presence in more than just IT but other divisions of the company… and all the bacon!

What is the biggest problem you see with corporate cultures today? Too much regulation on employees, which can take away from their productivity. There needs to be a better balance. I also see a need for companies to focus more on retaining good employees.

What "rookie mistakes" do you see in up-and-coming IT leaders? Buying into the latest hype in the IT world, and not having a good grasp on making IT not only a support division, but also a "production" proactive entity of the company.

Describe your leadership style: I manage in the style that I believe is best suited to the people around me and to the situation at hand. It can change from day to day, moment to moment.  It’s a delicate balance to maximize our morale and productivity. I always have my management hat on because it is an “all the time” responsibility.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Wendy Schuchart, senior site editor .

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